Braving The Tornado Slide

Day 10 - Tornado Slide Playground Illustration - Doodlewash

Today, for our prompt of playground, I made this quick little 3 color sketch of one of my favorite pieces of playground equipment as a child. The so-called “tornado slide” was just really super cool and when you’re very small, seemed gigantic in scale. Since, I’m in Kansas City where actual tornados occur, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, its name was a bit ominous to be sure. This was not a ride to be taken by those afraid of heights. As a kid, I had no fear at all of heights, but as an adult I started to acquire that fear. Of course, the height is never the actual fear as it’s really just the fear of falling from that height that causes me to go weak in the knees today. I had none of these silly fears as a child. No fear of falling, nor any fear of failing at something. I knew that I could simply try again so never really made a fuss about doing so. As a kid, I was always in a constant state of trying things out and figuring out what I could along the way. As an adult, I end up comparing everything I’m about to try to a long history of the things I’ve tried before it. While I adore history, this bit of history is a pain in the butt. It often blocks me or stops me entirely from trying something new I’m considering. They say we get old and wiser, but I still find most of my true wisdom comes from my inner child. The kid who had no fear of racing down that giant slide.

As many of you know, my focus is writing and illustrating and I’ve not shared much of what I do in my actual sketches. When I do, I’m rather shy about it because it’s often a bit backwards from the approaches used in modern watercolor painting. I’ve always had the inability to wait for paint to dry, and rarely have the time to wait for that to happen, so I’ve developed an approach that mostly took that waiting bit out of the equation. Though, sometimes as I rush to the scanner to quickly make my daily post, the glass of the scanner gets a little painted in the process. That’s why I eagerly support the actual watercolor and drawing gurus as they are the folks you should be learning from if you want to better understand the proven techniques of watercolor painting and drawing. I’ve never functioned in a step-by-step manner, preferring to take in everything as an idea or concept and then apply it where I see fit. I was the exact same as a child. I would get perfectly excited by the concept I had in my head and often rush the execution in my attempt to make it come to life. Rushed, sort of became my style. And though I know there’s a more fastidious way to approach things, it’s just not me. I love ideas and stories and concepts. Intangible things that swirl in my mind and manifest tangibly in whatever way they see fit in the moment. Sort of like my podcast, and a new episode launched this week called “A Sketch A Day,” so I hope you check it out if you haven’t yet and leave me your comments! 

In many ways, my own art practice is exactly like a playground. I often find myself straying from my own habits just to see what might happen next. It’s that “what if” question that controls pretty much everything I DO in life. Yes, I tell myself, that’s exactly the “correct” way to do this or that, but, “what if…” And the thought trails off to oblivion as I spin many different scenarios in my mind. I honestly never worry about finding the one true solution, I just love staying in a world where anything is possible, and learning all I can along the way. So, I fear I’m not very good at telling others exactly what they should or shouldn’t do. I instead excel at telling others to simply DO and find out what they love most for themselves. Later this month, for the first time ever, I’ll be sharing my own approach to coloring with watercolor in a fun little book I’m creating. It’s not at all like any other instructional art book currently out there since it’s born out of my “what if” mindset. And the adult in me is sort of freaked out by the idea of even attempting to share my own crazy approach to sketching and coloring with watercolors. But, my inner child is thrilled and excited to finally make that weird idea he’s had a reality. Yeah, he’s totally confident it’s awesome. And for my own part, I just have to take a deep breath and assume it could be right, while thinking back to those days spent braving the tornado slide.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, and Cobalt Blue. Photo Reference: Nels Olson.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Tornado Slide Playground Illustration - Doodlewash
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
26 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 1 month ago

    Your instructional art book! It sounds absolutely marvelous, and I know it will be full of creative spark. I’m out and abouting the next couple of days but I’ve got your sketching stuff podcast on my list and can’t wait for that moment where I sit down and listen to it.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 Yeah, instructional art book sounds so serious and of course, my own book will be nothing of the sort. hehe But, yes! I hope that it provides creative spark!

  2. Lisa 1 month ago

    There was a park in my hometown that had an apparatus where a bunch of kids would each grab a bar and run in circles as fast as we could then jump on for the ride. Centrifugal force gave the feeling you were going to fly off. When you got off you staggered around until the dizzy wore off, then you did it again. I loved that thing. If course it’s gone now. Too dangerous for today’s kids I’m guessing. The same park had really tall swings so you could pump hard until you hit the high point where the chains would go momentarily slack and you were flying. Those are gone now too. Pity.

    I’m sure your book will be great. There are so many ways to get to art, why would we all want to do it the same way.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Oh I remember that ride!! 😃💕 I loved that as a kid! Yeah, it was totally disorienting and sure, borderline dangerous, but it was awesome!! And the swings! Yes! I hate that all those moments are gone now. I’m not sure an iPad or smartphone is a good replacement. And thanks for the vote of confidence. Actually making a book that’s not just stories but a bit instructional is a big scary step for me. 😊

  3. smzang 1 month ago

    Charlie says, “I had none of these silly fears as a child. No fear of falling, nor any fear of failing at something. I knew that I could simply try again so never really made a fuss about doing so. As a kid, I was always in a constant state of trying things out and figuring out what I could along the way. ”

    Keep that little Charlie alive forever. He fills the world with light!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕You’re a gem and always make me feel good about what I’m DOing… The thing about never quite following the “rules” is that you literally have no idea if what you’re doing will be well received. I’m happy to know you like what I show up with!

  4. Gaeyle Gerrie-Boss 1 month ago

    beautiful drawing and love the way the colors swirl and add motion

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Gaeyle! 😃💕 So happy you liked my little tornado slide… fun times indeed!

  5. Sharon Nolfi 1 month ago

    Beautiful slide! I never remember seeing one quite like it, as a kid, or as a parent. Instructional art book sounds wonderful – definitely looking forward to it.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah, I used a primary palette and artistic license on this one, so it might well be a slide that doesn’t exist, though I think now it should! And hope folks enjoy my new art book… it’s at least going to be very, very unique! hehe

  6. Mary Roff 1 month ago

    The world would be a pretty boring place without “what if” and I imagine your inner child is right about your book. Looking forward to the book!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕hehe… when I reveal the new book, you’ll know that my inner child wrote the entire thing! lol

  7. LoriCtoo 1 month ago

    I had to laugh at this post. It is so me(except for the tornado slide part). I teach art journaling classes in my own way. A lot of times there is no rhyme or reason to my processes, but they get me to the end result. The biggest reward?? My students keep returning, fighting for seats. Lol! We aren’t all wired the same way, you are full aware of that. (I believe you and I are very close however.) I am excited to see your book. I hope to share it with my students!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 hehe… yeah we are all so different and I LOVE the way you described how you teach. I taught for a few years at the Kansas City Art Institute and it was very much the same. No real strict process, just an overarching concept that somehow managed to get right result. I’m just hoping my very unconventional new book can do the same! lol 😉

  8. Laura Kate 1 month ago

    What if you created a coloring book?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      That’s actually where I started, but I plussed it up a bit. So, my book is like a coloring book on steroids I guess. Or just weird… only time will tell really! 😉 💕

  9. Doreen Bowers 1 month ago

    Now as an adult we are giants to these playgrounds questioning if it will hold our weight. As a kid I don’t remember much fear. And now it seems it is a farther way down if we fall.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      So true, Doreen! When we grow up we someone start to understand the distance of that fall. But what we forget is that falling was exactly how we learned in the first place. So I like to keep my inner child active and controlling the shots! 😉 💕

      • Doreen Bowers 1 month ago

        And remember Charlie hands out first

  10. memadtwo 1 month ago

    I met one of my best friends when she saved my daughter from falling off the slide. We should be as fearless as a child! (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Wow… that’s an amazing, and a bit scary story actually, Kerfe! 😃💕 Love that you formed a best friend in that. Life has the most perfect ways of bringing the right people together.

  11. June Hadaway 1 month ago

    I would definitely want to go down that slide. It is so colorful and would be inviting to all the kids I know. Your book is a must read. Can’t wait.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, June! 😃💕 And my book will be well… unusual to say the least. It’s not something I’ve ever seen before, so I just have fingers crossed that people will enjoy it! hehe

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